B.C.'s newest 'food hub' opens in Cariboo region to support food entrepreneurs
Sprout Kitchen Food Hub opened in Quesnel, B.C., earlier this week
Quesnel, B.C., is home to the latest addition to the province's network of food hubs, where up-and-coming entrepreneurs can rent food processing and storage facilities and connect with others in the industry.
The Sprout Kitchen Food Hub opened Thursday to individual food producers and startup restaurants across the Cariboo region, helping them sell their products to a wider market across northern B.C.
Sprout Kitchen is funded by the city, the provincial government and the Northern Development Initiative Trust, a non-profit economic development agency based in Prince George. Similar hubs — which are all part of the B.C. Food Hub Network — exist in the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island to help innovate and market local food and beverage processing businesses.
"The Sprout Kitchen is creating more opportunities for Cariboo food processing businesses to increase their production and sales, expand their networking, and use of local ingredients," Agriculture Minister Lana Popham said in a written statement.
Amy Quarry, the project coordinator for the Sprout Kitchen Food Hub, says the space serves as an incubator for food entrepreneurs to grow their businesses without having to spend a huge amount of money on food processing equipment upfront.
"You would have a freezer or refrigerator storage that you could rent by the shelf. You could have a workstation that is basically yours if you wanted to rent it full time or you can rent it just a couple of hours a month," Quarry said to Carolina de Ryk, the host of CBC's Daybreak North.
"There also are a lot of other services that the hub will provide, such as workshops and training, distribution network for local products in the region, lots of other types of support services that help food based businesses really get their businesses growing and help them scale up to the next level."
WATCH | Inside the Sprout Kitchen Food Hub
According to the food hub's website, entrepreneurs can use the space to make products ranging from baked goods and frozen foods to dehydrated and canned goods.
Quarry said the food hub also helps to boost northern B.C. 's agricultural industry, because food businesses renting the hub space will buy produce from local farmers.
"There's an opportunity for local agriculture to potentially sell more of their products as ingredients to the processors in the food hub, and so there's room for it to support the local economy in that way as well," she said.
Quarry said non-profit organizations such as food banks may also rent the space to process donated items and distribute processed foods to people in need.
Registration and a membership fee are required to use the hub's facilities.
Tap the link below to hear Amy Quarry's interview on Daybreak North:
With files from Daybreak North